Assumption's Nicole Timmons

Career arc: Nicole Timmons has spent the past three summers in the pitching circle for the Knights. And each season she's made a drastic improvement.

After battling control issues as a sophomore — a 3.43 ERA and 47 walks in 69 1/3 innings — Timmons has flourished into a first team all-stater the past two seasons.

"I wasn't very good at all as a sophomore," she said. "It is kind of crazy the jump I made from sophomore to junior year, and then again from junior to senior. I got a lot better."

Timmons was 46-4, an ERA under 0.60 and more than 575 strikeouts the past two years. She compiled a 25-0 mark this year with a 0.43 ERA and fanned 321 hitters versus 53 walks in 145 2/3 innings.

She struck out a career-high and state-tournament record 20 in the Class 3A state championship triumph over Albia.

Timmons has a riseball that is clocked around 63 miles per hour along with a changeup, but it wasn't the physical improvement that caught her eye.

"I got a lot better mentally, especially in MAC games," Timmons said. "I don't know why, but MAC games I always got super nervous. There were some games last year I couldn't even finish. I handled it better this year."

Whirlwind week: It was after 2 a.m. because of a lengthy weather delay and extended title game before them that Timmons and the Assumption softball team left the Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge on July 22. It was almost 4 a.m. before she got to sleep.

By noon that next day, Timmons was back in the Quad-Cities and preparing to sing at her cousin's wedding. Then on Sunday morning, she was on a plane for California to pitch for Iowa Premier Gold at a national tournament.

"I pitched a ton out there," Timmons said.

It took her several days to respond to all the congratulatory messages she received from her state finals performance and fully soak in Assumption's 44-game win streak that ended with the school's first championship.

"When you're in the moment sometimes, you don't think about where you actually are," she said. "Looking back and talking about it with the whole team, we really did do something special."

Biggest takeaway: The championship game performance is one Timmons and her teammates won't forget.

The right-hander also pointed to a six inning no-hitter where she had 16 strikeouts against Des Moines East at the Iowa City tournament in early June.

More than the individual accolades, Timmons said the team camaraderie is what she'll remember most from this year's squad.

"I think everyone on our team would say we're like best friends," she said. "They made it an amazing season because they're amazing people.

"It is going to be hard to leave that."

On deck: Timmons moves to Des Moines on Aug. 23 and begins her college career at Drake the following week.

With her softball and academic success, Timmons is on a full-ride scholarship. Drake costs approximately $50,000 a year for tuition along with room and board.

"My parents always told me they would get me to wherever I wanted to go, but I knew in my head I wanted to do it myself," she said.

Timmons is eager to see how she performs against Division I competition.

"I don't think I'm going to have to make too many adaptations," she said. "I'm going to work hard and get better at what I know how to do. The pitching coach and coach at Drake told me they want me to have a multi-level riseball and change up.

"I hope to go in there and make an impact right away."

The biggest adjustment will be facing much deeper lineups.

"Sometimes in high school, you have one through four or five that are really good, but you can buzz through the rest," Timmons said. "In college, I'll have to be at the top of my game every single batter and really remain focused."

— Compiled by Matt Coss

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Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.